The Equal Pay Act of 1963 says that businesses cannot discriminate in providing wages to people who are performing equal work based on gender. That means that individuals who are handling the same responsibilities at the same quality level for the same period of time cannot make different wages solely because one is a women and one is a man. The act would likely also come into play in situations involving transgendered individuals.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 goes even further. It protects people from discrimination in hiring or promotions based on gender as well as religion, race, national origin or color. This means that employers cannot base a decision between equally qualified candidates based solely on one of these factors. Businesses also cannot promote or choose not to promote a person based on these factors.
It’s interesting to note that pregnancy is included in the protections of the act. Women cannot be fired solely because they become pregnant, and pregnancy cannot be the sole factor in a decision about hiring or promotion.
The acts also provide options for someone who feels he or she is facing discrimination because of his or her gender. Individuals are protected from retaliation if they report issues of discrimination, which means employers cannot create a hostile work environment to punish an employee for asserting his or her rights.
If you think you have been discriminated against, or if you are facing a hostile work environment because you raised issues of discrimination, then it’s important to know your rights. You could have rights to seek corrective action or recover through civil legal action.
Source: United States Department of Labor, “Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law,” accessed Nov. 18, 2015